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  1. #1

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    stupid question about contrast

    I just started using the Analyser Pro and love it. It saves me time and paper. I am finding that I am using a grade 1 or 1.5 so as not to have the skin tones too dark.

    Does this mean that my negatives are too contrasty and that I should agitate less during film development?

    Is there a way that I can get my prints to look more "punchy", that is more contrasty, without having the skin tones so dark?

  2. #2
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    sounds like you need to increase exposure a little, and cut development and agitation, to keep the contrast more under control.

  3. #3

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    I suggest you try controlling skin tones in your prints with your printing exposure. After you nail your basic exposure for the skin tones using a 2 or 2 1/2 filter look carefully at your shadows. If the shadows show good detail in the negative but print too dark use a lower number filter or grade. If you regularly have to print with a 1 or 1 1/2 filter consider extending development time of your negatives. A 20% increase would be a good start. Keep everything else the same: temperature, agitation, volume of developer and dilution. You should expect changes in scene contrast throughout the roll to require different printing filters to balance shadows and highlights but if the majority of your negatives require higher or lower filters then an adjustment in development time is in order. If your negatives lack good shadow detail try cutting the film speed in half.

  4. #4

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    I'll second the recommendation to give a little more exposure, 1/3, 1/2 or 2/3 stop according to what's easier (unless of course you are already overexposing) but don't overestimate the importance of agitation: the difference between 5 seconds in 30, and 10 seconds in 60, is pretty small, though the difference between these and continuous agitation is rather greater. I'd be more inclined to leave the agitation regime where it is and cut 10% off the dev time.

    Consider, too, keying your portrait exposure to a skin tone when you take the picture, but remember that the Ansel Adams overexpose-and-underdevelop approach is not the only one to negative development: Mortensen got gorgeous skin tones via the exact opposite route, underexpose-and-overdevelop.

    Cheers,

    Roger
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  5. #5

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    Thanks for the suggestions. For the negatives I am presently printing I am using either:

    1: Rollei Classic 100 shot at 80, developed in Rodinal 1+50 10 minutes (first minute constant agitation then 5 seconds every 30 seconds)

    2: Ilford Pan F+ shot at 40, developed in Rodinal 1+50, 11 minutes with the same agitation as above.

    I will overexpose a little more, Illford Pan F at 25, and Rollei 100 at 50 and cut agitation to only every minute to see if that helps.

    In regards to my original question, does needing to print at 1 or 1.5 grade mean that my prints are too contrasty? Is overexposing more better in getting the skin tones more light and less toward the shadows as opposed to cutting development time and agitation?

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lawrence Chai View Post
    In regards to my original question, does needing to print at 1 or 1.5 grade mean that my prints are too contrasty? Is overexposing more better in getting the skin tones more light and less toward the shadows as opposed to cutting development time and agitation?
    Are these portraits under controlled lighting? If so, reduce the lighting ratio (use more fill). Can you post a portrait as an example?

    Also, why not try shooting a few frames at ISO and 1/3 and 2/3 stop under (eg 64-80 for Pan F) or even 1 stop under to see if you like the tonality better?

    As I said before, over-exposure and under-development isn't always what you want for portraiture.
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  7. #7

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    Consider, too, keying your portrait exposure to a skin tone when you take the picture, but remember that the Ansel Adams overexpose-and-underdevelop approach is not the only one to negative development: Mortensen got gorgeous skin tones via the exact opposite route, underexpose-and-overdevelop.

    Cheers,

    Roger[/QUOTE]

    In the book, Outdoor Portraiture, which I am reading now, Mortensen does, however, specify a slow film and a low contrast subject. Sounds like N+ development and makes me want to read the actual debate between the two. I suspect they had more in common that one might suspect.
    Regards
    Bill

  8. #8

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    If your filter setting are 1 or 1.5 the negatives are contrasty. If thin they require a higher contrast paper, say a grade 4 to 5. Either decrease development or increase exposer by one third.

    Good luck

  9. #9
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    I'm not sure that the choice of filter suggested by your analyzer is necessarily telling you anything about your negatives. For one thing, with the RH designs analyzer pro that I have it is important to make sure that the analyzer is calibrated to the paper. They provide settings for a lot of papers that you can input manually, but since paper can vary from box to box (and a condenser enlarger will change it too) it is worth recalibrating yourself. They provide instructions for doing this I think, if not with the unit then on their web site.

    Also, I almost always meter a portrait differently than I do other types of negatives. The standard practice of doing the lightest negative area first then the darkest doesn't seem to always work (if at all). You can start with that, but then meter a known skin tone and try and cross reference that to the steps printed above the light display. I think with a few experiments it is easy to tell when you have a skin tone where it should fall and adjust the exposure and contrast appropriately not worrying about the low and high ends of the scale. If everything that you want to print is in your negative then it is exposed and developed correctly. And there is nothing wrong with printing a portrait using softer (or harder) contrast - just make sure that you are making the decision and not the machine. It is really only there to give you more information about how to proceed. The final decision should still be yours. I find that with contrasty negatives split-grade printing works wonders.

    Best,

    Will
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    "I wanna be anarchist." - JR

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by cowanw View Post
    In the book, Outdoor Portraiture, which I am reading now, Mortensen does, however, specify a slow film and a low contrast subject. Sounds like N+ development and makes me want to read the actual debate between the two. I suspect they had more in common that one might suspect.
    Regards
    Bill
    Dear Bill,

    I don't think the slow film was especially important; it's just that slow films give a higher gamma infinity. The low contrast subject was however fundamental.

    The biggest difference between them was that AA was a brilliant photographer and a somewhat plodding writer, while WM's photography was a good deal narrower in scope but vastly more entertainingly described.

    Cheers,

    R.
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